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Wednesday, February 1, 2006
Just When You Think the Drug Smugglers Have Thought of Everything…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:47 pm

Via CNN: Narcs nab drug-smuggling puppies

Yes, you read that right: puppies.

Just go read the whole thing.

Filed under: War on Drugs | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Saturday, January 28, 2006
More on the Drug Tunnel
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:23 pm

Via the San Diego Union-Tribune comes more info on the tunnel under the US-Mexican border discovered last week: Drug tunnel’s on hot-potato property.

The story is primarily about the warehouse under which the tunnel ended on the US side.

It includes this picture, which probably isn’t the mental image that most people would have conjured:

Filed under: War on Drugs | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Thursday, January 26, 2006
If We Only Had a Fence…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:18 pm

Via CNN: Authorities unearth 1,200-yard tunnel into U.S.

Authorities have found what they call the largest tunnel running into the United States along the U.S.-Mexican border.

About 2 tons of marijuana were inside the tunnel, the Drug Enforcement Administration said, indicating that it appears to be used to transport drugs.

Gee, ya think? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

More from the story:

DEA and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents discovered the tunnel Wednesday night. It runs from Tijuana, Mexico, to Otay Mesa, California.

Officials said the tunnel is about seven-tenths of a mile or more than 1,200 yards (1,148 meters) long.

[…]

At least 15 tunnels have been uncovered in California and Arizona since 9/11, she added.

And for the record, there is at least a partial border security fence at Otay Mesa. It is impossible to tell from the story if the tunnel went directly under the fence, however.

Filed under: War on Drugs | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More on the Drug Tunnel linked with [...] Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:23 pm Via the San Diego Union-Tribune comes more info on the tunnel under the US-Mexican border discovered last week: Drug tunnel’s on hot-potato property. The [...]
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
More on Heroin
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:53 pm

The preceeding story from the BBC sent me to Google looking for some info on the days when heroin was considered a legit drug.

Here’s a full shot of the Bayer bottle:

Here’s some background from a 1998 Sunday Times story: Heroin, Bayer and Heinrich Dreser

“What we don’t recognise now,” says David Muso, professor of psychiatry and the history of medicine at Yale Medical School, “is that this met what was then a desperate need - not for a painkiller, but for a cough remedy”.

Tuberculosis and pneumonia were then the leading causes of death, and even routine coughs and colds could be severely incapacitating. Heroin, which both depresses respiration and, as a sedative, gives a restorative night’s sleep, seemed a godsend.

The initial response to its launch was overwhelmingly positive. Dreser had already written about the drug in medical journals, and studies had endorsed his view that heroin could be effective in treating asthma, bronchitis, phthisis and tuberculosis.

[…]

There were heroin pastilles, heroin cough lozenges, heroin tablets, water-soluble heroin salts and a heroin elixir in a glycerine solution. Bayer never advertised heroin to the public but the publicity material it sent to physicians was unambiguous. One flyer described the product thus: “Heroin: the Sedative for Coughs . . . order a supply from your jobber.”

Here are two ads for heroin as a cough remedy:

Also, on the name (which was originally a brand name):

He also tested it on some of Bayer’s workers, and on himself. The workers loved it, some saying it made them feel “heroic” (heroisch). This was also the term used by chemists to describe any strong drug (and diacetylmorphine is four times stronger than morphine). Creating a brand name was easy.

Filed under: War on Drugs | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
When Heroin was Legal
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:54 pm

Via the BBC: When heroin was legal

As recently as the 1950s, heroin was a popular medicine prescribed by family doctors. But growing fears about the drug’s addictiveness led to the start of it becoming criminalised, 50 years ago this week.

[…]

in 1955 there were only 317 addicts to “manufactured” drugs in the whole of Britain, of which just 15% were dependent on heroin. That’s a national total of 47.5 heroin addicts.

[…]

Clearly, the fact heroin was legal and widely prescribed for common ailments such as coughs, colds and diarrhoea, as well as a pain killer, had not led to the sort of widespread dependency that opponents of legalisation fear it would do if legalised today.

An interesting piece, especially since we were discussing such issues in my Drug War Politics seminar this afternoon.

If anything, it is worth clicking to see the Bayer bottle of Heroin.

Filed under: War on Drugs | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More on Heroin linked with [...] 25, 2006 More on Heroin By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:53 pm The preceeding story from the BBC sent me to Google looking for some info on the days when heroin. Here’s a full shot [...]
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
A Good Tip
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:32 pm

Via Real Tech News: Tip of the Day: Don’t Post Ads for Cocaine on the Internet.

Yes, I would say that that is good advice.

Filed under: War on Drugs | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Friday, January 20, 2006
Parents Admit to Letting Kids Use Heroin
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:44 pm

Via the Beacon Journal: Parents admit allowing children to use heroin

The Halls, arrested in December in a raid of their home in Ripley Township, have been accused of using and selling heroin in the presence of their children, ages 7, 12 and 14, authorities said.

The parents also have been accused of allowing the two older children to use heroin left over from their supply, two to three times a day, Mushett said.

My word.

Filed under: War on Drugs, Criminal Justice | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

The Florida Masochist linked with The Knuckleheads of the Day award
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Some People Never Learn
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:55 am

Via WaPo: Barry Tested Positive for Cocaine Use In the Fall

D.C. Council member Marion Barry tested positive for cocaine use in the fall in a drug test ordered by a court after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor tax charges, according to two sources familiar with Barry’s case.

Barry, who served four terms as mayor and was elected to the Ward 8 council seat in 2004, has since begun treatment for drug use, the sources said, but Barry’s failure to pass the mandatory drug test puts him in legal jeopardy.

Because he violated the terms of his release, Barry, 69, faces an increased risk of serving the maximum 18 months behind bars — rather than probation — for his failure to file tax returns for six years.

You know, if I had already spent time in jail, I think one of the things I would make sure and do when I was out would be to avoid obvious routes back to jail, like not filing my taxes. Yeesh.

And, of course, avoiding the blow might be a good idea as well.

Every time Marion Barry’s drug use comes up I think of my friends in Colombia who would note that it was difficult to swallow a lot of Washington’s scolding over cocaine when the Mayor of DC was caught smoking crack on videotape.

What a wreck this guy is.

Filed under: US Politics, War on Drugs, Criminal Justice | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Monday, January 2, 2006
Cocaine Courier Dies After Tube Leaks
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:25 pm

Man dies from cocaine leak

Post-mortem results on a Tanzanian, who on Thursday suddenly fell ill aboard an Air Malawi flight and was later pronounced dead at a clinic in Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre, revealed he had swallowed 177 tubes of cocaine, some of which burst, police said on Sunday.

“Yes, we can confirm that Abdallah Saidi Mohomed had 177 tubes of cocaine in his system, three of which burst,” said Rhoda Manjolo, Southern Region Police spokeswoman.

[…]

The post-mortem results, published on Sunday, say the cocaine powder - coming from tubes the size of a toe - induced high fever in Mahomed.

This is nothing new, but it continues to amaze me that people do it, and the volume that they are willing to carry.

The powerful pull of money at work.

Filed under: War on Drugs | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Friday, December 30, 2005
2005: a Record Year for Cocaine Seizures in Colombia
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:52 pm

Via CNN: Colombia reports record high 2005 cocaine seizures

Colombia seized a record 186 tonnes of cocaine this year thanks to a Washington-backed program aimed at cutting imports of the illegal drug to the United States, the Colombian government said on Friday.

The haul, seized using equipment and expert advice provided by “Plan Colombia,” was 26 percent more than last year and had a U.S. street value of $4.7 billion, Defense Minister Camilo Ospina told reporters.

Couple this with, as the story also mentions, increases in the street price of cocaine this year and one will get a great deal of crowing from Washington over the successes in the drug war. And I will not discount the idea that driving price up and interdicting supply are, in fact, two basic tenets of the policy.

However, the real question will become whether use of cocaine actually declines. Further, it will be interesting to see if these types of successes can be sustained over time.

As I have pointed out before, the real irony here is that the contraction of supply, and the increase in price, simply makes drug trafficking more profitable. It’s basic economics.

As such, unless these changes actually dissuade use in a substantial fashion, these successes in the drug war actually end up helping the drug traffickers.

Filed under: Global Politics, Latin America, War on Drugs | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Tales from the Drug War linked with [...] ast year it was reported that cocaine seizures in Colombia had been especially successful (see here) and crop eradication has been marginally successful, depending on how one wishes to define the term [...]
More Morales and Coca
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:27 am

Via the The Seattle Times (the second story, scroll down):

President-elect Evo Morales will reject U.S. economic and military aid if the United States requires continued coca-eradication efforts to get the money, a close aide to the former coca growers’ leader said Tuesday.

Morales also plans to withdraw Bolivia’s military from anti-drug efforts and leave the job to police, said Juan Ramon Quintana, a member of the Morales’ transition team.

[…]

Coca eradication is a condition for aid from the United States, which gave Bolivia $91 million in 2005.

Morales’ decision was made “mainly for reasons of sovereignty,” said Quintana, who described Bolivia’s Special Force to Fight Drug Trafficking as “an appendix” of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Interesting. The linkage of aid to cooperation in the drug war has been Washington’s main tool in leveraging foreign governments in this area of policy. Also, the shifting of the execution of drug policy to he police from the military will have substantial implicatons for US policy in Bolivia.

Filed under: Global Politics, Latin America, War on Drugs | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

National Institute for Truth linked with "America's worst nightmare" visits Cuba
Down Bolivia Way
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:09 am

Via the AP: Bolivia Leader Won’t OK Coca Eradication

President-elect Evo Morales traveled to the heart of Bolivia coca-growing region to reinforce a campaign theme: he will not permit the widespread destruction of the country’s coca crop.

[…]

“We are winning the green battle: the coca leaf is beating the North American dollar,” said Morales, a frequent critic of U.S. policy in the region. “I guarantee you, there will be no zero coca.”

The 46-year-old Aymara Indian who won the Dec. 18 balloting with a decisive 54 percent of the vote, campaigned on promises to stand up to the U.S. on the eradication of coca, the raw ingredient of cocaine.

He repeated his promise to allow coca cultivation, an activity that helps sustain nearly 30,000 families in the area.

The Morales presidency is going to cause the administration to rethink some of its anti-drug policies. And, as I mentioned the other day, there are political implications for cocaleros in Peru who will, one would expect, see the success of their Bolivian brethren and seek more political influence.

The picture to the left (via the AP) shows Morales with a coca-leaf necklace (but, no, the white stuff in his hair isn’t cocaine, lest ye think otherwise).

Meanwhile, Morales is headed to Cuba for a visit (via the BBC): New Bolivian leader to visit Cuba

Bolivia’s president-elect Evo Morales is due to arrive in Cuba for his first foreign trip since his sweeping election victory earlier this month.

Mr Morales, who on 22 January will become Bolivia’s first indigenous president, is due to hold talks with Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Mr Castro is sending a jet to collect Mr Morales and about 60 supporters.

This will give the administration hives. Of course, if the US had been wise in regards to Cuba at the end of the Cold War, and regularized relations, which would have allowed for economic liberalization (which would affected government as well), Castro would not be in the position of being the Dean of Anti-American Forces in the region. The one thing that Castro has going for him is being the bulwark against Yanqui imperialism, and the US has been the source of that power by maintaining Cold War era policies.

The degree to which Chávez and Morales can look to Castro as a means of building region prestige is very much the US reaping what it has sown for a decade and a half.

Aside from scoring points with Cuban-Americans in Florida, and sticking it to Castro for being an ally of the Soviets, exactly what have US sanctions against Cuba accomplished since 1990?

Also, via CNN: Bolivia’s next president on celebratory tour.

Filed under: Global Politics, Latin America, War on Drugs, Elections | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Colombia, Uribe and Coca
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:32 am

Via the BBC: Colombia urges more drugs war aid

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has told the BBC the world must play a bigger role in helping his country combat illegal drugs and rebel groups.

“There are many countries helping us and there are many countries that do not help us yet,” the president said.

This is, in fact, one of the basic logics of Plan Colombia, that governments interested in combating cocaine would contribute funds directly to that fight in Colombia. Of course, the US has been the main contributor to this point. Indeed, while Pastrana’s (the president before Uribe) plan was to obtain ongoing contributions from other Latin American states and Europe, it has basically been a US-Colombian partnership. No doubt that in speaking to the BBC, Uribe is trying to draw attention to the fact that Europe is also a major market for cocaine.

Certainly this is also driven by the campaign, by showing Uribe being tough with foreign governments on this issue.

Such statements by Colombians (or Latin Americans in general) always raise the debate as to whom to blame for the drug problem: those who produce, and those who consume (and along the same lines, whether one can blame the entirety of a given country for either problem-i.e., all Americans are to blame for consumption/all Colombians are to blame for production). Of course, such positions are false dichotomies, but it is hardly unusual to hear someone in the US wish to blame the Colombians alone for the cocaine problem. Such statements are facile, but quite common. They also reveal the notion that if we could, for example, eliminate all coca leaf, that the drugs problem would go away. Such thinking is, of course, incorrect, because if all the cocaine blew away in the wind then those seeking a high would find a domestically produced intoxicant to consume.

Indeed, in the overall problem with drugs, I would argue that the key factor is not production, but consumption. There would be no production sans the demand of consumers. Nevertheless, the preponderance of drug war policy is aimed at supply. As such, it is the case that the policies are predicated on severe misapprehension of how markets work, and are therefore doomed to fail (and to cost billions in the process).

Back to Uribe, part of what has increased his ire the last couple of days in terms of the FARC and funds in regards to fighting narco-trafficking is the incident that took place near the Sierra Macarena National Park, where troops were manually removing coca plants, because aerial spraying could have affected the park. During the process, the FARC attacked and killed 29 soldiers (via the Miami Herald: Uribe declares war on coca after attack

About 400 rebels with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, used mortar shells, land mines and heavy artillery to attack a camp of 80 soldiers just before daybreak Tuesday, the army said.

[…]

the government was eradicating the crops by hand in this region because of its close proximity to the Sierra Macarena National Park, a 1.6 million-acre reserve that environmentalists say would be permanently harmed by aerial fumigation.

With the government refusing to conduct aerial spraying of crops in the national parks, the FARC has begun growing much of its coca inside the parks, Uribe said.

The event fully underscores the degree to which the decades-old guerrilla war has fused with drug trafficking.

Filed under: Global Politics, Latin America, War on Drugs | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Monday, December 19, 2005
Morales Claims Victory
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:09 am

Via the BBC: Leftist claims victory in Bolivia

A leftist candidate from one of Bolivia’s Indian peoples who wants to legalise coca-growing has claimed victory in the presidential election.

“We have won,” Evo Morales told thousands of cheering supporters as some exit polls suggested he had passed the 50% barrier for outright victory.

Most fascinating.

To clarify something from a comment below: I am well-aware that there are centuries-old usages for coca leaf that have nothing to do with cocaine. For example: it used in teas and is chewed-in both cases we are talking about a stimulant on par with a strong cup of coffee. Coca-chewing in particular has long been used to fight altitude sickness, fatigue and to ward off the hunger-pangs of the very poor (of which there are a very large number in Bolivia). The coca leaf has cultural and economic significance. The following excerpt from an essay on Bolivia and the coca leaf from Americas.org may help illustrate the situation:

Bolivians do not view coca, in its natural leaf form, as unhealthy or criminogenic. Its effect is only mildly stronger and more entertaining than one might experience from strong coffee. We noted in our travels that the coca leaf is offered as a gift, hoarded by healers, employed by the poor to curb hunger, and even substituted for coins to make change in rural areas. From the perspective of a visiting American, the Bolivian people are responsible and conservative in their use of it. They do not seek to abuse coca by using the refined extract.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. government’s demand for the total eradication of Bolivian coca crops met with more than a little resistance there. Most Bolivians do not find it in their interest to eradicate one of their traditional pleasures in order to please a foreign government.

As such, the US policy of crop eradication has profound implications in a place like Bolivia. It is noteworthy that cocaleros (coca farmers) in Peru have also made noise in recent years about political organization.

Just looking at this following article via the BBC from 2000 helps underscore why there is certainly going to be some conflict between the US and Morales administration in Bolivia: Bolivia wages war on the coca leaf.

While I do not thing that this is necessarily the issue here, it is a significant one, to be sure.

For a more detailed discussion of coca eradication in Bolivia, the following comes to mind: Hellin, Jon. Coca eradication in the Andes: Lessons from Bolivia. Capitalism, Nature, Socialism; Jun 2001; 12, 2 here in PDF format.

Filed under: Global Politics, Latin America, War on Drugs, Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Balloon Juice linked with [...] he election of Morales in Bolivia is the beginning of the end. ** Update *** More here from the Poliblogger. Filed under: War on Drugs | [...]
Sunday, December 18, 2005
An Electoral Shocker in Bolivia
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:25 pm

Via the BBC: Leftist set for Bolivia victory

Exit polls from Bolivia’s presidential election suggest a clear victory for left-wing Aymara Indian candidate Evo Morales - though not an outright win.

Several polls give him 42-45% of the vote ahead of his nearest challenger, former President Jorge Quiroga who, the polls say, got between 33-37%.

Mr Quiroga has now admitted defeat, offering his congratulations to his opponent and his party.

Mr Morales seems certain to become Bolivia’s first indigenous president.

If no candidate polls 50% of the votes, the new parliament - also being elected on Sunday - will formally vote on who the next president should be.

The implications for US policy, especially in the drug war, will be most interesting to watch unfold.

It is certainly a watershed in Bolivian politics.

Matthew Shugart has some initial analysis.

Filed under: Global Politics, Latin America, War on Drugs, Elections | Comments (4) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
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